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Fireworks: Some Facts and Safety Tips

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fireworks Safety

Whether you're celebrating Independence Day or the New Year, a backyard barbecue or other family occasion, it is important to understand the laws regulating fireworks use in the District of Columbia.

Between June 18 and July 18, 2005, firecrackers, sparklers, and rockets accounted for most of the injuries seen in emergency departments. The US National Fire Protection Association and CDC strongly recommend that fireworks be used only by professionals.

What’s Prohibited?

In general, any firework that explodes is illegal in the District.


  • Firecrackers of any kind or description 
  • Any firework that explodes, such as cherry bombs, salutes, Roman candles, floral shells, artillery shells
  • Any firework intended to move after the piece is placed and fired; such as bottle rockets, parachutes, buzzbombs, pinwheels, helicopters, jumping jacks
  • Sparklers more than 20 inches (50mm) in length 
  • Any firework that contains mercury, arsenic, tetryl, phosporous, sulphocyanide, magnesium, potassium picrate, gallic acid, chlorate of potash and sugar, or any highly oxidizing agent
  • Any firework having a side fuse, or a fuse inserted at any point along the length of the firework
  • Any firework found by the code official to be dangerous to the safety of persons or property


  • Any firework specifically excepted in this article
  • Toy paper caps containing not more than twenty-five hundredths (0.25) of a grain of explosive composition per cap
  • Sparklers not more than 20 inches (50mm) in length
  • Torches, cones
  • Box fires, fountains
  • Dip-sticks, non-poisonous snakes
  • Paper novelty items, colored lights

* Prohibited Fireworks: (Article 27, DC Register, F-2700.1.1): The manufacture, storage, display, sale, setting off, or discharge of any firework listed in this column is prohibited in the District of Columbia.

+Permitted Fireworks: (Article 27, DC Register, F-2700.1.2): The fireworks in this column are permitted to be stored, displayed, sold, delivered, used, and possessed in accordance with the provisions of this article

Any person found using or in possession of illegal fireworks in the District of Columbia could face fines and penalties of up to $2,000 and/or arrest.